I like this banana bread partly because it has no baking powder, which I think in the case of banana bread is too bitter. This recipe only uses baking soda and eggs for leavening and it comes out with just the right sweetness and banana flavor. It is a simple—or quick as the recipe says—and straightforward banana bread with nothing fancy, although I pumped this one up a bit with a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste in addition to a teaspoon of vanilla.
The original recipe comes from a community cookbook called Angels and Friends (1981), from a group affiliated with the Easter Seal Society in Youngstown, Ohio. I also have the second edition (1991), but used the first edition much more. It’s one of those books where members contribute recipes. I have no idea if the recipes are original or not, but I suspect they were just collected by these people or handed down in their families. Remember when there was no Internet? They list four editions of the cookbooks on their site that are apparently still available: http://www.easterseals.com/mtc/get-involved/angels-of-easter-seals-cookbooks/
The first time I made this bread, probably in the 1980s, there was obviously something wrong with it, which I figured out and fixed. Luckily I didn’t just look for another recipe—fixing it paid off. As you can see, I jotted down the fix of salt and vanilla. There are other discrepancies, so I’m guessing the author just forgot the salt, maybe assuming that you always put salt in a sweet bread. The vanilla is my own must-have ingredient. Then she lists shortening in the ingredients, but calls it butter in the instructions. Which is it? Could you use either one? Probably, but I use butter. Butter gives the bread a nice flavor without being oily, but if you like the feel and texture of a quick bread made with oil, I think you could use half butter and half oil.
Quick Banana Bread
Adapted from “Quick Banana Bread,” Angels and Friends Favorite Recipes cookbook, submitted by Mrs. Nicholas Masters
Preheat oven to 350°
Grease and flour two 4″ x 8″ loaf pans
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds from a vanilla bean
2 ripe bananas (I used 3 small-medium bananas)
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
Cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanillas. Add the mashed bananas and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix well—this makes a fairly stiff dough. Stir in nuts. Divide into two pans and bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, checking to see that the edges do not burn.
For such small loaves, and because I am sure to allow my oven to fully preheat, I did not use the toothpick test. I just relied on the appearance of doneness of the edges and the familiar center crack on the top. I think I have made this recipe using one large loaf pan instead of two small ones, but you do need to test the center in that case. I like the smaller ones better for overall texture. I used those disposable (well, I did wash them to re-use a few more times) foil pans, set on a baking sheet.